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Along the Way
Another case of sibling rivalry...
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The tale of a spoiled young man who learns his lesson in a big way.

Calling Joseph spoiled would be putting it mildly. It was his fathers fault in large part. Jacob spoiled Joseph rotten. The boy was the son of Rachel, a child of passion and love, not only familial duty. Jacob had two wives and two concubines, of the four women it was Rachel who captured his heart. Years before, the first time he saw her watering the sheep at her fathers well, he was in love with her. The other women were a responsibility he accepted. It was his duty to bring sons and daughters into the world, as was expected of a man of honor and stature. He didnt mean to create any ill feelings among his children. It just seemed that Joseph always got the seat of honor or the nicest piece of meat. It was Joseph who got to travel with his father on business trips. Once when Jacob had several bolts of fine cloth, he had a beautiful coat of many colors made for Joseph. The other children got coats and tunics of more sensible cut and material. Rachel didnt try to curb Jacobs generosity, as she wanted the best for her son. She was happy at the attention he enjoyed. Both parents were sure that Joseph would be a leader among his people, even if he was the youngest of Jacobs children.

Joseph was good at heart; kind to the poor and faithful to Gods precepts. However, for all his virtue, he was a bit full of himself, perhaps as a result of the all the praise and attention he received. It may also simply have been that he was seventeen. That is a very difficult age for keeping things in perspective. Without a doubt, his greatest fault was that he didnt know when to keep quiet. When he received a blessing or good fortune he shared the news with everyone, not thinking that others may grow jealous of him. If he had a dream that promised him a blessing, he would announce it the next morning at breakfast and again at the evening meal. One such dream really annoyed his elder brothers, as he described them bowing down to him!

Jacob may have been a wonderful patriarch and an excellent businessman but as a father to his children he could have used a few courses in adolescent psychology. The older boys were no prizes. They were bullies and constantly getting into trouble. Every time Joseph walked around camp with the many colored coat his father had given him, his brothers burnt with envy. This was especially true of Judah, who as the oldest child felt that he deserved any special attention that Jacob might give to the children. Jacob seemed to hold him in account as the oldest and gave him extra responsibility, yet all of the benefits seemed to go to Joseph. After Josephs description of his dream in which they would bow down to him, Judah and the older boys were infuriated. Something had to happen and happen very soon!

A few days later the brothers were off with the flocks, telling stories and complaining among themselves about their brother. In the distance they saw Joseph making his way toward them. Encouraged by their previous complaints, Judah suggested that it would be a good time to get rid of Joseph. Ruben spoke up against the plot. He refused to have anything to do with killing Joseph, even if the youth was obnoxious at times. The others agreed with him.

So Judah demanded that they at least teach the brat a lesson. They would beat him up and leave him in a dry well. Let him set there for awhile and think about the error of his ways. Perhaps by the time that he found his way home he would be a bit less arrogant.

So, when Joseph reached his brothers they set upon him and gave him a good beating, tearing the many-colored coat from his back. As they dropped Joseph into the well, Judah looked up and noticed a caravan headed in their direction. He suggested that perhaps some good may yet come of the days events. Judah reminded them that while they did not want not to kill Joseph, leaving him alone in the well would make him prey to the mountain lions. Perhaps they could sell him to the Ishmaelite whose caravan approached.

Canaan was a natural land bridge between the Mesopotamian Kingdoms of the Middle East and the Egyptian Kingdom of North Africa. The coastal area was well watered and provided an easy alternative to a long trek through the desert. As a result there were always caravans traveling through the neighborhood.

It was decided. Joseph would be sold to the travelers. One problem remained. How to explain the loss of their brother to Jacob? Then Judah got an idea. Since they had been worried about leaving Joseph alone in the well because of the mountain lions, perhaps the creatures could be pressed into service. Mountain lions were among the more dangerous natural predators in Canaan. It was common for the lions to attack sheep and goats near the edges of herds at night. Jacobs sons took turns watching their fathers herds. Those animals were the family fortune and everyone shared responsibility caring for them. The boys knew that night watch could be dangerous because of the mountain lion activity in the area. They would tell Jacob that while Joseph was on night watch he was attacked by mountain lions! They would kill a lamb and spread its blood on Josephs coat as proof of their story.

The next morning the brothers went home with tears in their eyes and their robes rent. They explained how Joseph had been killed by a mountain lion the night before. All they were able to salvage was his torn and bloody coat of many colors! Jacob was beside himself with grief and mourned his lost son for many months, as did Rachel. The boys cared little for Rachels grief, as she was not their mother. They felt sorry for Jacob but still no one told him the truth.

During the fight that ended with Joseph being dumped into the dry well, the boy was knocked unconscious. When Joseph awoke he was in chains. He quickly learned that he was now a slave. The Ishmaelite slave trader was headed toward Thebes, the capital of the Egyptian Empire. There Joseph and the others to whom he was chained would be sold in the slave market.

The first few weeks after being sold to the slave traders were a nightmare for Joseph. He was in chains all the time, forced to walk miles each day with little food or drink. Most slaves of the Egyptians ended up in the brick pits, working on the pyramids and other construction projects. The work was difficult and long. It took the life out of a person. He knew that if he ended up in the brick pits he would be dead in five years.

When they reached Thebes, Joseph and the others were taken to a holding area and cleaned up. Apparently there was to be a private viewing! A spark of hope flashed in his heart. A private viewing offered the chance that he wouldnt end up in the brick pits!

Potiphar was commander of Pharaohs palace security and a highly respected official in the Egyptian court. He was among the guests attending the private viewing. Indeed, the viewing was probably being held for his benefit. He examined each of the slaves with a careful eye. When he saw Joseph he was not impressed, as he was a mere youth and was particularly scrawny and bruised after walking from Canaan in chains.

"Where are you from boy?"

"I am from Canaan." Responded Joseph in a low voice, not quite sure if he wanted to cry or fight. The Egyptian was pleased that the boy understood his language.

"How is it that you speak Egyptian, lad?"

"I am of a well-born family in Canaan. My father is a respected chieftain. I would not be here except for treachery. I am educated in the ways of business and can speak several languages, as well as read and write in those languages."

Potiphars eyes brightened and a smile began to show on his face. This youth he almost overlooked was turning out to be just what he wanted.

"Read this, boy. If you do well, you may have found a good home for yourself."

Joseph read with obvious ease the inventory document that Potiphar took from the slave trader. Within moments the deal was settled and one of the commanders men was transporting Joseph to his new home.

Life in Potiphars villa was not as bad as Joseph had anticipated. The man was a good master, treating his slaves as members of his family and not as property. Unlike many other slave owners, his servants were well fed and clothed. As long as they did their job, they were treated well. Potiphar particularly liked Joseph and as the years passed entrusted him with ever-greater responsibility. As the young mans responsibility increased, Potiphar would see that Josephs education was supplemented as well to prepare him for even greater responsibility. By the time Joseph turned twenty-five he was Potiphars chief steward. Indeed, in Potiphars mind Joseph was more a son than a servant.

Joseph was freed from the bonds of slavery not long after entering Potiphars service. However, he remained with his Egyptian master, for he was well treated and knew that it would not be safe for him to return home. Another reason that he stayed was that he liked Potiphar. In many ways, his master was more a father to him than Jacob. Potiphar saw a potential in Joseph that Jacob had missed, being so caught up in his own problems. Potiphar nurtured Josephs talents, so that instead of being the spoiled son of a chieftain, Joseph grew to be a gifted and responsible adult.

Josephs troubles began when Potiphar got married. Being a professional soldier did not leave one much time for a wife and children. Once assigned as commander of the Pharaohs guard, he realized that most likely he would be in Thebes for the rest of his military career. This meant that he could settle down and raise a family. The first thing he did was purchase a villa and then organize his household. It was at this point that Joseph was brought into the household. By the time Joseph was chief steward of Potiphars properties all was operating smoothly. Potiphar felt that now he should take a wife, as he wanted children while he was still able to enjoy them.

Before going much further in this tale, it is important to know that the Pharaoh, Potiphar and many of the other leaders were not really Egyptian! Not too many years earlier a people from the north (around modern Turkey) called the Hyskos, over-ran Egypt and took power. They were good rulers. However, as foreigners they were not well liked by the true Egyptians.

Potiphar was a real catch and all of the matrons of Thebes competed to make him their son-in-law. While a wise man in the ways of power and military strategy, Potiphar was not very good at understanding women. He ended up marrying the daughter of one of the respected, old Egyptian families of Thebes. The idea was that this alliance would allow Potiphar better acceptance by the true born Egyptians.

His wife was a beautiful young woman and well trained to play the role of matron for one of the most powerful households in all of Egypt. However, she saw this marriage as merely an arrangement between the families and brought little love for Potiphar into the relationship. Potiphar was much older than his young wife and was not the handsome and dashing figure that she had spent her adolescence fantasizing over. Needless to say, it was not long before she began to have a roaming eye. Potiphar never noticed this about his wife, or perhaps he did not want to notice it. The servants well were aware of this tendency in the mistress and gossiped about it. Even the neighbors felt sorry for Potiphar, though no one told him of the problem.

Joseph was in a difficult situation. As chief steward, he worked with the mistress daily. He did his best to keep his distance from her and made sure that another servant was always with them. However, by this time he was a well built, handsome young man and women found him attractive. Before long the mistress began to proposition Joseph, who was shocked and mortified. He explained that he would never do anything to hurt his master. He had been given full run of the house and all of Potiphars property. He could have anything he wanted. His slightest whim was easily satisfied. The only thing withheld from him was his masters wife. He respected his master and the sanctity of the marriage bed. Bowing respectfully as he explained the situation, he made a quick exit from the room.

Over the weeks that followed Joseph was extra careful, as she continued to proposition him. He was frightened, as he knew that something would happen sooner or later and no matter what he did or didnt do it would be bad for him. He dared not approach Potiphar and expose his wife for what she was! But what was he to do?

A few days later the mistress called Joseph, as she wanted to discuss with him the details of a wine shipment they received from her husbands vineyards. Joseph went, accompanied by an assistant, as always. They spoke briefly about the wine and then the mistress ordered Joseph to stay and the other servant to go. Again she propositioned him and when Joseph refused, she grew angry. If he would not do what she wanted then Joseph would suffer her wrath. She grabbed at his tunic, pulling it from him, while she also raked his chest with her fingernails, drawing blood. Standing there practically naked and bleeding, Joseph was in shock. She then began to scream as if she were being attacked. He panicked at the sound of the screams and began to run from the room, only to be caught by Potiphars guards.

That evening a bound Joseph was brought before his angry master. The man was angry because many conflicting emotions raged in his heart. He was angry that anyone had dared molest his wife. He was angry as well that it was Joseph, as he had given the young man his complete trust for many years and had thought of him as a son. He was confused, as he knew Joseph to be honest and trustworthy. Potiphar considered himself to be a good judge of character and knew that his trust in Joseph had been well placed. If he had misjudged Josephs character then his ability as a judge of character was in serious doubt. Yet, he found it difficult not to accept the claims of his wife as the truth. After all, she was his wife!

Once he listened to Josephs version of the story he was tempted to relent. However, he knew that if he did not defend his wifes honor her family would cause considerable trouble for him and any political benefit that the marriage may have brought would be irreparably undone. If Joseph had still been a slave or was any other servant, he would have sent him to the executioner without a second thought. However, Joseph was a different matter entirely. There would have to be some punishment but what? After considering the matter he told the guard to take Joseph to the pharaohs prison.

The Pharaohs prison was used to house political prisoners, hostages, or those who were of sufficient rank in the kingdom to warrant special treatment. The lower class and common criminals were not afforded the luxury of prison. They were either executed or punished under the lash. Potiphar knew the chief jailer, as they had worked closely in the past, and explained the situation. He had only Josephs word against his wifes but he trusted Joseph a good deal more than his wife. However, it was necessary to make a show of disciplining Joseph, so he was willing to lend the jailer his chief steward to serve as a prison administrator until things had settled down at home. The chief jailer was happy to be able to do Potiphar a favor. He even got a skilled administrator out of the deal! It was a deal in which he came out a winner no matter how you looked at it.

Joseph was an excellent administrator and allowed the chief jailer to go about his political maneuverings safe in the knowledge that the prison was being cared for even better than he could do himself. It wasnt simply Josephs administrative skill, which had been developed to an art in Potiphars home. Joseph knew that the people for whom he was responsible had done no wrong other than been on the wrong side of a disagreement with the Pharaoh. Before long most would be returned to their former positions of power and honor. He treated each of the prisoners with respect and they appreciated it. He knew that he would never be able to return to Potiphars home, as there was no way he could live in the same home with his old friends wife. Potiphar knew this as well. Not too many months after Joseph assumed administration of the jail, he discussed the situation with Joseph, encouraging the young man to make the best of his current situation.

Several years later the pharaoh had a strange dream. The dream bothered him, as it was abnormally clear and he was able to remember the entire dream when he awoke. He knew that the dream was important but could make neither heads nor tails of it. His priests and soothsayers were little better in offering interpretations that made any sense. Now, as the Pharaoh spoke, one of the court officials overheard the dream. This official had been in prison several months before over some imagined slight by which he had offended the Pharaoh. While in prison this official had a dream of similar clarity. Joseph interpreted the dream for him, as a sign that within days he would be released from prison and restored to his former place of honor. Of course, this happened, just as Joseph said. So, the official piped up and suggested that he knew someone who might be able to help.

A short time later the official was over at the prison telling Joseph that the Pharaoh wanted to speak with him! A bath, quick shave, and a change of clothes later Joseph was bowing before the Pharaoh asking how he could be of service.

The Pharaoh recounted his dream to Joseph, who carefully listened and took in each word. When the Pharaoh was finished, Joseph offered his analysis of the dream. There would be seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. Always the good administrator, Joseph added that it would be wise to take advantage of the plentiful years to store up supplies for the lean years. Not only would the Pharaoh be able to meet the needs of his people but he would be able to make a nice profit from selling grain to neighboring kingdoms which lacked the good sense to prepare for the famine.

As the pharaoh listened, he found Josephs interpretation of his dream to ring true. He smiled. Joseph was all that Potiphar and the chief jailer promised and more. Of course, the Pharaoh had done some research on Josephs background before receiving him in audience. Josephs suggestions on how to make the most from the situation Egypt faced showed the Pharaoh that the young man would serve his needs quite well. So, Pharaoh appointed Joseph viceroy under him, making him the chief administrator of all Egypt and its possessions. Only he, the Pharaoh could call Joseph into account and only he could remove Joseph from office.

As he listened to the Pharaohs pronouncements, Joseph could only marvel at how God had turned the worst tragedy of his life into a path that lead to his greatest success. At one moment he was a slave in chains. Before long, he was the second most powerful man in all of the Egyptian Empire! At each turn, tragedy was turned into grace.

Before long he had a princess for a wife and children to continue after he was gone. His life was filled with joy. He achieved success beyond his wildest dreams!

Yet, he was not at peace. He wanted to see his father. He wanted to face his brothers and hear from their own mouths why he had been treated so cruelly. He wanted reconciliation with his family. He knew that he would never find peace until then. He tried to figure out how to best achieve this goal and got nowhere. In the end he decided to concentrate on his duties and the blessings that he already enjoyed. When God wanted the reconciliation to come about it would happen. Joseph decided to wait upon the Lord.

The following harvest began the seven years of plenty. The crops were double their usual volumes and the silos were filled very quickly. During the growing season Joseph had the workers construct many more silos and so it went year after year for the next seven. At the end of the seven years Egypt had more grain in storage than it could ever use and commodity prices were low. Dealers from other nations ridiculed Joseph saying that he was either a madman or a genius, for the stored grain would either save Egypt in a prolonged famine or drive domestic grain prices so low that it would ruin the economy. Then, on schedule, the eighth year saw a terrible drought that nearly destroyed the entire grain crop. Yet, while other nations in the region suffered, Egypt enjoyed reasonable prosperity. The people had enough to eat and Joseph was filling the royal treasury from grain sales to the neighboring kingdoms.

Jacob and Esau were the largest landowners in the region around Shechem. The drought cost a terrible toll on their herds. They needed grain to feed their animals and to meet the needs of their families, servants and tenants. After an extended discussion it was decided that Jacob would send his sons as emissaries to the great Egyptian Pharaoh. Perhaps he would grant them the right to purchase grain. So, off they went to Egypt, unaware that the one they would have to deal with was the very person they had sent into slavery almost eighteen years earlier.

The average Egyptian could go to the market and purchase all of the grain he or she needed to feed the family or his or her cattle. Since Joseph froze the domestic price of grain at the same level it was the day the Pharaoh appointed him as viceroy, it was not that difficult to meet your needs.

However, the viceroy regulated sales to outsiders. This was necessary because outside sales tended to be for large amounts of grain. Joseph wanted to ensure the best price for the grain sold. He could do this because the market forces were in his favor. He also wanted to ensure the best political gain for Egypt. Grain was used to cement political alliances and its lack hurt those who viewed Egypt as an enemy. Joseph was the one who handled these negotiations.

When Judah and his brothers arrived in Thebes they quickly arranged for an audience with the Viceroy. They wanted to negotiate the grain deal quickly and head home.

That evening Josephs assistant asked when he would like to meet with a delegation from Canaan. The delegation was lead by Judah Ben Yakob, the eldest son of a major land owners in the region. As he heard the words, Joseph froze. His heart skipped a beat. It was his brother. He could remember experiencing only contempt from Judah in all his years in Canaan. There was a flash of anger but also a pang of longing for his mother and father. Joseph steadied his voice and set up an appointment with the delegation for later in the week. Let Judah cool his heels a bit first!

When the day of the meeting arrived Joseph met his brothers in one of the receiving rooms of the Pharaohs palace. He wanted them to see that they were meeting a man of great importance in Egypt. Joseph sat on a jewel-encrusted throne on a high dais, to further symbolize his authority. As they entered the room they bowed low out of respect. Believing him to be long dead, they did not recognize their brother. They certainly did not expect him to be the Viceroy of Egypt! Joseph remembered the dream he had as a youth which so enraged his brothers and smiled. His brothers were bowing down to him as the dream had foretold.

Speaking in Egyptian, he asked them who they were. They replied that they were brothers and the twelve sons of a certain chieftain in Canaan. They were sent to buy grain.

Jacob let his anger flash and responded in a low and threatening voice.

"You are liars and spies come to prey upon Egypt! I know you to be liars and spies for you say that you are twelve sons of the same man, yet there are only ten of you!"

Judah was nervous at the Viceroys outburst but spoke as best he could. "I should have explained. One of us is no more and the other, the youngest, is at home with our parents."

"You are liars and not fit to live!"

He ordered the palace guard to take the visitors to the Pharaohs prison and detain them there until he called for them again. He would let his brothers stew awhile in their fear. He had suffered much greater indignities because of their cruelty.

In the meantime Joseph struggled with his emotions as he tried to figure his next move. The rage he felt toward his brothers had dissipated quickly after the first meeting. He began to feel compassion for them. Judah was actually showing signs of maturity and was acting as a leader, rather than an instigator for a bunch of bullies. He was pleased to hear that Benjamin was growing into a fine young man, as he had only been an infant when Joseph was brought to Egypt in chains. He wanted to see his parents as well! He realized that if they were coming to buy grain the situation back in Canaan was difficult. He did not want to add to the familys pain! What to do? What to do? Before long a plan began to form. Justice would be served and the family would be united. After three days cooling their heels in prison Joseph had the brothers brought before him.

"I have considered your story and will give you the benefit of the doubt, for I fear God and will not commit an injustice. One of you will stay here as hostage. The rest will return to Canaan with the grain you request but you must return with your youngest brother. This lad will stay here in Egypt as proof of your integrity. If you do not return with the boy, then your hostage dies. You will die as well, for I shall send soldiers against you and your families."

The look of shock and fear that overcame the brothers was a sight to behold. His plan was working like a charm. Now, it must be remembered that Joseph was playing his Viceroy role to the hilt. He even used an interpreter to translate the Hebrew spoken by the brothers into Egyptian. Of course, he had no need of the interpreter other than to help the charade he was pulling on his brothers.

Ruben made a remark to Judah at this point that touched Josephs heart.

"This is the fruit of your treachery toward Joseph. We are being called into account. We saw his misery. We heard his pleas for mercy and yet we sent him into slavery. Gods judgment is upon us! Did I not tell you not to harm the boy!? You would not listen and now we must pay for his blood."

As Joseph heard those words the pain of all that he had experienced came back to him and he could barely keep his emotions under control.

He signaled the guards to take one of the brothers and return him to prison. To the others he said, "Go! Take your, grain. Get your youngest brother and return him to me if you wish to see this other brother of yours again."

Jacob was not about to allow Benjamin to go to Egypt as surety for the good faith of his brothers. He knew his sons too well to trust them with the life of his youngest. However, it did not take long before the grain that they brought back from Egypt was exhausted and hunger was apparent on the faces of their children. Jacob called Judah and told him to go down to Egypt and purchase more grain. Judah argued that he could not do that without Benjamin. His father complained and tried to look for a way around the simple truth that Benjamin had to go with Judah. Finally, Judah swore that he would bear full responsibility for anything that happened to Benjamin. It was little consolation to Jacob but he realized that there was no other way. This time he told them to bring special gifts for the viceroy. If he had to lose more sons then he had to lose them. There was no other way.

Not long after they presented themselves at the palace again. Joseph learned that Benjamin was with them. He told his chamberlain to invite them to lunch at Josephs home the next day. The brothers were worried upon hearing the news fearing that it may be a trap. The Chamberlain assured them that all was well and that there was no problem. They were to be honored guests of the Viceroy.

The Viceroy seemed a different person when the brothers arrived at his home. He was a gracious host, returning a well-fed and well-dressed Simeon to their company. He seemed particularly happy to see Benjamin and treated him like a favored child. The brothers relaxed at the favorable treatment and were visibly relieved when the viceroy announced that they were free to leave the next day with all the grain and supplies they needed. They could even leave with Benjamin, as he knew that they were men of their word and could be trusted without the need for a hostage.

That evening Joseph told his chamberlain to take his silver cup and place it among the possessions of Benjamin. He was ready to bring this drama to an end. There was just one more act that had to be played out.

The next day the brothers had barely left the city when a troop of soldiers rode out and stopped them. The captain checked their baggage and found the Viceroys silver cup among Benjamins possessions.

"Is this how you repay my Lords generosity? Do you repay good with evil? This youth will be the slave of my master for his treachery!"

All of the brothers were in a panic and followed the soldiers into the city. They were brought before the Viceroy who told the brothers that they were free to go. Only the offender would be made a slave. There was no justice in punishing those who had committed no offense. Judah knew that he could not bring bad news back to Jacob again. It would surely kill the old man, if Benjamin were not with Judah when he returned. He explained the situation to the Viceroy and offered himself as a substitute for Benjamin. Place Judah in slavery. He would willingly accept that fate. Only, please, send Benjamin back to their father.

As Joseph listened to Judah his heart was breaking. Finally, this cruel, self-centered bully who had wanted him dead was willing to sacrifice his own life for another. Judah had learned compassion! Joseph found it in his heart to forgive the offense that they had done him even before they had departed from Egypt the previous year. Yet, justice had to be served. He needed to be certain that his brothers cruelty had been out-grown but there no way of knowing for sure unless he tested them. Now he knew.

"Judah Ben Yakob," Joseph said in Hebrew. "Look at me! I am your brother. I am Josef Ben Yakob. God has taken the evil that you did against me and turned it into mercy and grace. I was a Hebrew slave. Now I am Viceroy over all Egypt by the will of God. I do not hold this against you for God has taught me forgiveness, as God seems to have taught you compassion."

His brothers stood motionless, dumbfound, and shocked. They heard the words but the meaning did not seem to register. The Viceroy was claiming to be their long lost brother, Joseph!

"We are only in the second year of famine. Go back to Canaan and tell our father that his son, Joseph, yet lives and wishes to see him. It is not easy for the governor of all Egypt to travel to Canaan, so I ask that you bring Jacob and all the families here to Egypt. They may settle in the province of Goshen, where I have land. They can live there and survive the famine in relative comfort." Having said his piece, he could no longer hold back his tears and embracing his brothers. He wept; as did they.

And so it came to pass that Jacob went down to Egypt with all his sons, their wives and children, all of their servant, and all of their property that could be transported. They settled in the land of Goshen with the blessing of the Pharaoh, who was pleased to see that Joseph was so happy. Eventually Jacob went to join his fathers, Abraham and Isaac, in the world beyond this one. Many years later, after seeing several generations of his childrens children, Joseph died as well. The descendants of Jacob who lived in Egypt prospered for many generations and filled the land with their offspring. Eventually, a new dynasty of Pharaohs came into power. These were people who did not favor the Hebrews. Under these pharaohs life grew difficult for the Hebrews. But that is another tale.

Also read A Course in Christian Spirituality by Deacon Shewman that is available through this link.

(c) 1997-2008. Richard Shewman. All stories, articles, reflections and other written material contained in this website are the creative fruit and property of Richard Shewman. All rights are reserved. The written material contained in this website may not be reproduced or published in any form, except for the individual and personal use of the reader, without the express consent of the author.